When to DIY vs. when to BUY

I can do all the things - or so I think. I can do all the things AND do them well - the lies I tell myself. I am a fairly decisive person (which is really just a nice way of saying I am fairly impulsive). I am like that Ariana Grande song: “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it.” Usually, when I see something I really like or “have to have” I just go for it and buy it for myself. Other times though I am more “I see it, I like it, I want it, I can do that myself!”

I have got a can-do attitude when it comes to Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects. When I see something I like, my mind goes through a rapid-fire analysis of whether I can DIY that or if I should just buy it (whatever it may be). If I think that I can achieve a similar result then I am going to try and do it myself. I want to break down the questions I ask myself before I embark on any DIY project to help you decide if you should DIY or just BUY!

I love me a good DIY project. I love crafts and baking and I am generally a quick study. DIY gives me such a sense of accomplishment and pride. The process can even become a hobby and relaxing. I also however, love instant gratification. “Don’t care how, I want it now” - the famous last words of Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Feeling my culture references today.

I bet some of you can relate to this: you are creative, capable, and genuinely enjoy a project with a purpose. On the flip side you may also experience: lack of time, limited access to resources, and not-so enduring levels of patience. If this sounds like you, let’s dive into the questions I ask myself before I DIY anything. I use crafting as an example in this case because I am a novice Cricut user and often think I am way smarter than that machine (even if it bests me on a regular basis). These questions can apply to any big or small project you have in mind:

  1. Do I have TIME?
  2. How complex will the project REALLY be?
  3. Will the project bring me JOY?
  4. Is the result comparable?

  1. Do I Have TIME?

Assuming the capability and basic resources are there - the biggest factor in any DIY project is TIME. Time is your most valuable currency. Can I make my own iron-on vinyl for a t-shirt? Yes, I “CAN.” Do I have time to watch numerous videos on how to layer multiple colors of vinyl, print it, cut it, weed it, and design is EXACTLY how I saw one I could buy? Do I have TIME to google free fonts (because this is DIY I’m trying to save a buck) and THEN learn how to download them and integrate them into my cutting software? Do I have TIME to source the exact type of shirt I want (only to find out that style/color/brand is only for retailers or for wholesale and you only need ONE)? The answer is simple. Yes, I can do all of these things and no, I do not have that kind of time or patience. If this was my passion and I wanted to launch a business around this kind of DIY, then yea, I would make time for it and I would be excited about it. The reality is I am only willing to make time for a limited and quick set of skills. The question I will leave you with in regards to time is this: Can I DIY this simple project AND have the finished product in my hands in an hour (or whatever your version of a realistic time frame is)?

  1. How complex will the project REALLY be?

Complexity of a project is also an important factor in deciding when to DIY. I have a decent and varied skill set, know-how, and I’m a quick study. Does this mean I should go out and buy an embroidery machine or laser engraver for this small project I’ll only ever do once? Definitely no. If your DIY project requires special or expensive equipment that gives you no long-term utility you need to ask yourself: Is this project too complex and should I leave it to a professional?

  1. Will the project bring me joy?

Are you one of those people who get frustrated when things aren’t working correctly or going the way you hoped? Does troubleshooting in the middle of a project breed annoyance? Then you need to consider whether this DIY project is actually bringing you any joy or satisfaction at all. You need to keep pleasure and satisfaction in the forefront of your mind when tackling a DIY because if you find the process to be more frustrating than pleasurable, you should recognize your limits and probably just buy.

  1. Is the result comparable?

Last, and certainly not least I want you to begin with the end in mind and ask yourself: is the end result truly comparable to something you could have just purchased all done? Is your final product a suitable replacement or will you have to just buy what you wanted anyway? Don’t realize when you have a Pinterest fail on your hands that you wasted time, resources, and probably money on your sub-par DIY.

Whether you are refinishing cabinets, painting countertops (yes, I’ve done this), crafting, planning your wedding, designing, baking, or building something I hope you have a clear direction on whether you plan to DIY or just BUY. I would love to hear about your best DIY successes and your biggest DIY fails (because let’s be real, we can only grow by trying and failing sometimes!). Let me know in the comments or tag me on social media with your DIY wins and DIY fails!

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